When we realized we would be exploring NYC on a toddler's schedule, we figured that meant most museums, large crowds and late nights were out. However, food is a must, regardless. So, why not eat well while exploring? The city is beautiful, eccentric, quirky and rooted in so much rich history and diversity. All of that bleeds over into the culture surrounding food and I was so excited to be able to jump into it for a short time. One of our good friends, Jaselle, lives there and we were lucky enough to have her as our local guide during her free time. I'm fully aware that we didn't even scratch the surface of all that was available, but here's what all we ate and what we thought of it.
Pizza at Parkside Brooklyn
When we got into town, we were starving.
We walked a few blocks to Parkside Brooklyn, a bar and brick oven pizza place. Thin crust is my jam, so I was on board immediately. Pictured is a lamb sausage pizza with mozzarella, onions and mint. It was seriously the best way to start the trip. We also got an order of the veal meatballs which were again, so so good.
I loved this spot. I wish I had been in a better mindset (not exhausted from dealing with tiny human temper tantrums 30,000 feet in the air) so that I could fully enjoy it. The staff didn't blink an eye and handled James perfectly who was essentially a ticking time bomb at this point. The menu was small, simple and didn't feel overwhelming which was what had us ordering some meatballs along with the pizza. Quality was fantastic, vibe was exactly what we needed and the drinks were jussssst stiff enough.
Lape Rating: A+
Cookie Dough at DŌ
The next day was pretty open, as most of our days were. We walked around SOHO past all kinds of bakeries knowing what I was headed for: DŌ. They scoop cookie dough like ice cream, and it's kind of genius. I've heard from friends who planned on visiting this spot that they had to skip it due to wait lines that were around 4 hours. We didn't wait 4 hours, but we did wait around 45 minutes. There was a baby/toddler park right across the street (where the line was) so it was the perfect opportunity to keep James cool with waiting. It's located in an adorable area that makes waiting a lot more fun than some other places in Manhattan.
DO is definitely quirky, fun, and original! The main reason it doesn't get an A is really just because, as great as it sounds, there's really no time where eating a heavy-handed scoop of cookie dough settles well. It's not a light snack, hard to walk with and not very cold, which, again isn't a fault of the business but more a fault of the food item they've centered the business around. Kyle and Sharon weren't huge fans of their cookie dough choices and everyone agreed that my "unicorn sugar cookie" flavor was the best by a landslide. Although it was tasty, it was also super rich (as expected, I guess). I ate a couple bites, even posed for pictures with tourists (who weren't willing to wait the 45 min to an hour ), then immediately got a to-go box, guzzled my entire water bottle and put it away until later in the evening.
Lape Rating: B+
Avocaderia Avocado Bar
Sunday morning, we were relatively well rested and had our hearts set on some avocado. We stopped by "the world's first avocado bar," Avocaderia, to check it out! Jaselle and I went with the "Avoburger", which uses two halves of avocado as the buns on a burger of smoked salmon, herb yogurt, watermelon radish, arugula, black sesame seeds and lime "citronette." We also each picked up some cold pressed juice to sort of detox from the cookie dough extravaganza we had finished the night before.
It was really good! To be fair, I ate the avoburger like an actual burger once for a photo and then continued eating it as a salad. Kyle got a beautiful spread of avocado toast with smoked salmon which didn't even make it into a photo. The food was great, the service was friendly and it was just out there enough to get me to drop by. Kyle also asked that I specify that the coffee was much better than he was expecting.
Lape Rating: A+
The Rainbow Bagel
Jaselle and I hopped up early the next day to head out without Kyle and James to pick up what I was probably most excited about for the trip . . . the rainbow bagel from The Bagel Store. Sure enough, they had a bagel combo that pretty much screamed "I'm here from out of town ready to join in on the rainbow bagel hype!" The store was smaller than I expected but going on a Monday morning was an awesome decision because there was no line. It seemed to genuinely shock Jaselle to see no one waiting. The staff seemed nice and it was hard to hide my excitement when they brought out a freshly made batch of rainbow bagels. I got the "Rainbow Bagel Supreme" which was a "rainbow bagel with generous amounts of rainbowfetti cream cheese, topped with cotton candy and fairy dust." Sure, it all kind of clogged up the image of the bagel itself but goodness was it so good. We got two savory bagel sandwiches (still on the signature rainbow bagels) and one that had the rainbowfetti cream cheese without the cotton candy or sprinkles.
I obviously have a sweet tooth so while others may shake their head and dry heave, I loved it. Super fun, original, sweet and my new standard for a bagel. Plus, it's really cool to know how much work goes into each bagel. These people really care about the craft. Sure, the rainbow supreme bagel is a little gimmicky, but the rainbow bagel as a whole isn't.
Lape Rating: A+
The Unicorn Latte
When the Starbucks Unicorn Frappe frenzy hit, I was holding out for this Unicorn Latte from The End Brooklyn. We picked up 3 lattes all labeled under "Healing Lattes" on the menu which immediately had me intrigued. We went with the Unicorn, Merbabe and Purple Amethyst Latte having no clue which one would be the cutest or the best tasting.
Turns out the Purple Amethyst (top right) was the best tasting. It was really cool to try and I loved knowing that all of the ingredients would actually do my body good, unlike pretty much anything else I consumed on the trip. Regardless, they weren't the tastiest drinks in the world and although the place was cool, it felt like we went through a lot of effort to get there with not much of a payoff.
Lape Rating: A-
Dinner rolled around and off we headed to the traditional Georgian restaurant in the East Village, Oda House. While researching NYC food spots, khachapuri quickly hopped towards the top of our list. It's essentially a hand made bread boat with really good cheese. The video below describes it in better detail, but one of the cool things about it is that before it is served, and egg and a slab of butter are put into the cheese boat o' awesomeness and then mixed together before eating. We started off with some Georgian wine and khinkali, oversized, hand-rolled lamb and herb dumplings. They were so good. Insanely good. The main attraction is obviously the khachapuri so it was a great treat to see that we were starting off with another dish that was so great. After dumplings and the khachapuri, we ordered satsivi and chanakhi. The satsivi was organic, grass-fed chicken cooked in walnut sauce and Georgian spices and served cold alongside ghomi, Georgian grits topped with sulguni cheese. We loved it! The chanakhi (seared organic, grass-fed lamb baked in a clay pot with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and garlic) really wasn't our favorite, but operating under a sort of tourist's vow, we didn't regret trying it out.
Had James not been up late and clearly not thrilled about it, we would have stayed longer and tried some sulguni cheeses as a dessert, but we'll leave that for next time, because we will definitely be back to this spot.
Lape Rating: A+
Israeli Hummus at Chelsea Market
One of our last stops was Chelsea Market where we planned to casually stroll through, but after getting there, we quickly realized we were reaching some serious hangry levels. We stopped at a spot known for Israeli street food, Dizengoff.
There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of options to choose from in the market. It felt good to stop and grab something that was healthy and good quality.
Lape Rating: A+
Mashmallow Ice Cream at Ample Hills
Last but not least, we had to hit up Ample Hills Creamery. Being just a couple stops over from where we were staying, it felt like a no brainer. Jaselle was insistent that we try it and let's get real, as if you have to twist our arms to try ice cream.
Immediately when you walk in, it feels cozy. The names of each ice cream are clever and hand drawn, some with a little cartoon beside it. My personal favorite would have to be "Churned This Way" with a parade of happy animals dancing and waving the pride flag. I went with Snap Mallow Pop, the famous marshmallow ice cream and loved every bite. Also, for the record, I ordered a small, so, as you can see from the photo below, they are heavy-handed with the scoops.
The ice cream was great, the service was great, but our favorite part had to be the children's play area towards the back of the building. With only a couple tables and bar seating, they could have easily chosen to use this space for anything but I really loved that they chose this. It gave James an opportunity to get out of the stroller and play! Sure, we brought some toys with us, but nothing like this. It was such a great end to the day being able to relax and watch him play, all while enjoying some seriously tasty ice cream.
Lape Rating: A+
- Eataly: We knew this famous spot was a must. It's just that we didn't realize they opened a new location. Jaselle was meeting us and although we were all at Eataly, we got our wires crossed and ended up at different locations. She came to us since we had James. We may have missed out on the vibe, variety and experience from the original location, but it was a wonderful view as we ate across the street from the Freedom Tower and memorial. I was still pretty tired from traveling and our first big day on the town, and didn't take many pictures. I did get a sweet tote bag though.
Magnolia Bakery: Obviously we had to stop here. At the time, we weren't loving the crowded area around NBC studios but I happened to spot Magnolia and insisted I get something. I went with a simple vanilla cupcake. I saw the famous banana pudding and I guess I can blame it on being flustered by the crowd, or just not in the mood for banana pudding, but I passed it up for the cupcake. In retrospect, I regret it a little, but the cupcake was still fabulous! I wish I had gotten more!